MUSIC MONDAY Cole Porter’s song “Love for Sale”


Love For Sale (De-Lovely)

Love for Sale (song)

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Love for Sale
Written by Cole Porter
Published 1930
Form Show tune
Recorded by Libby Holman, Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians, Eartha Kitt, Mel Torme, Dinah Washington, Liza Minnelli, Diane Schuur, Chris Barber, Fine Young Cannibals, Jazz Orchestra of the Delta, Chet Baker, Hal Kemp, Artie Shaw, Erroll Garner, Billie Holiday, Royce Campbell, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Miles Davis, Cannonball Adderley, Dexter Gordon, The Manhattan Transfer, Elvis Costello, Buddy Rich, Julie London, Dr. John, Anita O’Day, Amanda Lear, Frank Sinatra, Jr., Boney M., Martin Smith, Cyrille Aimée
Performed by Kathryn Crawford, Elisabeth Welch, Harvey Fierstein, Aretha Franklin, Martin Smith, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Idina Menzel, Jamie Cullum

“Love for Sale” is a song by Cole Porter, from the musical The New Yorkers which opened on Broadway on December 8, 1930 and closed in May 1931 after 168 performances. The song is written from the viewpoint of a prostitute advertising various kinds of “love for sale”: “Old love, new love, every love but true love“.

The song’s chorus, like many in the Great American Songbook, is written in the A-A-B-A format. However, instead of 32 bars, it has 64, plus an 8-bar tag. The tag is often dropped when the song is performed. The tune, using what is practically a trademark for Porter, shifts between a major and minor feeling.

“Love for Sale” was originally considered in bad taste, even scandalous. In the initial Broadway production, it was performed by Kathryn Crawford, portraying a streetwalker, with three girlfriends (Waring’s Three Girl Friends) as back-up singers, in front of Reuben’s, a popular restaurant of the time. As a response to the criticism, the song was transferred from the white Crawford to the African American singer Elisabeth Welch, who sang with back-up singers in a scene set in front of Harlem‘s Cotton Club.

Despite the fact the song was banned from radio airplay, or perhaps because of it, it became a hit, with Libby Holman‘s version going to #5 and the “Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians” version going to #14, both in 1931. (All other 1931 recordings of the song were as an instrumental.)

Notable recordings since include Hal Kemp in 1939, Billie Holiday in 1945, Eartha Kitt in the 1950s, Ella Fitzgerald in 1956, and again in 1972 on her Ella Loves Cole album, Tony Bennett in 1957, Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderley for 1958 Miles and Somethin’ Else, Anita O’Day in 1959, Dexter Gordon in 1962, Al Hirt on his 1965 album, Live at Carnegie Hall,[1] The Manhattan Transfer in 1976, the German disco group Boney M in 1977, Donald Byrd on the Love Byrd album in 1981, Elvis Costello live on the remastered Rhino Entertainment CD of his 1981 record Trust. Harvey Fierstein performs a memorable (if interrupted) version in the movie version of his play Torch Song Trilogy. Martin Smith sang the song in the Cole Porter revue A Swell Party – A Celebration of Cole Porter at London’s Vaudeville Theatre in 1992. Simply Red led by Mick Hucknall sang this song at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1992. Harry Connick, Jr. covered it in 1999 on his album Come by Me. Amanda Lear recorded a version in 2006.

Other vocal versions include Mel Torme‘s, Dinah Washington‘s, Liza Minnelli‘s, Diane Schuur‘s, Dianne Reeves‘, Cyrille Aimée‘s and Fine Young Cannibals‘. The song has become a jazz standard, and is often performed in solely instrumentalist versions. Notable among these is the Arthur Lyman version, which revived the song as a single record in 1963.

The song was also performed during a sequence in a gay night club in the Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely (performed by Vivian Green) and by k.d. Lang during a similar sequence in Brian De Palma‘s The Black Dahlia. A recording by Julie London featured in the film “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” (2005).

Another notable recording of “Love for Sale” was made by Keely Smith at Capitol Studios, LA, for Concord Records in July 2002.[2]

There is another significant recording of “Love for Sale” by Jack Teagarden in 1940. The vocalist was 18 year old Kitty Kallen and, like the other versions of the song, was banned from radio.

Brazilian singer Zizi Possi recorded her own rendition for her album Para Inglês Ver… E Ouvir. Her rendition was picked as part of soap opera Belíssima soundtrack in 2006.

Idina Menzel covered the song on her 2010–2011 Symphony Tour as a mashup with The Police‘s “Roxanne“. The rendition of the mashup can be heard on her live album “Live: Barefoot at the Symphony.”

British Jazz Artist Jamie Cullum also did his own rendition for his album Momentum, entitled “Love For $ale”, featuring Roots Manuva. The allbum came out May 20th, 2013 in the UK, and May 21st, 2013 in the U.S.

See also


  1. ^ Al Hirt, Live at Carnegie Hall Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  2. ^ see Concord Records CCD-2138-2

External links




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